The tension of opposites animates the individuation process, where the ego is no longer the centre of the personality. The person can embrace the divergence of the soul, “the Self”. The philosopher`s red stone is the goal of alchemy. The new capacity exceeds the competing desires of the immature ego, where one has differentiated the ego’s desires from the soul’s desires. The hard fast boundary of the ego is lessened and coagulated, with greater clarity of binary opposites, leading to recognition of possibilities of the imagination, where the opposites might engender each other.

The voice of the soul’s desires articulates from the space between the opposites, inarticulate but spoken, inaudible but heard and absent yet present. The over-intellectualised, sublimated, and devitalised have risen from the depths into our conscious awareness. We are no longer out of touch with our instincts, split off mentally, with a rigid fast-paced persona locked into the pursuit of progress, attempting to revitalise our dismembered existence. We are working in endless confusion and error, leading to isolation, desolation and alienation. The restoration of the “BEAST “within brings the dangers of ambivalence between experiencing madness as well as the wisdom of nature, our deepest shadow and highest potential. Staying with the opposites and the interplay with them, we can remain with the tensions of ambivalence and meet the soul. The descent into the space returns us to the body’s soul, revitalising and experiencing the instinctual and archetypal lived body. The resurrection of the libido heralds the alchemical rubedo and the reddening of life. The libidinal body is an exoteric body with an aphroditic quality.

Seduction of the Dark and Blackness

The nigredo (black) is an accomplished stage where the fire is acting on the naïve, and the soul is already engaged in the journey. The blackness extinguishes the perceptual coloured world, bringing the light, the dissolving meaning and hope for meaning. The light breaks down the inner circle of nay fixed ego states, decomposing by grinding down with a sense of falling apart. We start to see through a glass darkly, where our persona is distorted; some things can be clearly made out, and others you can piece together. In contrast, others are a total mystery—the deconstruction of any positivity experienced as doubt, suspicion, wandering or valuelessness. The nigredo breaks the false paradigm; whatever we previously relied on, where we were dependable and comfortable, are recognised as false notions of goodness. Each moment of blackening is the harbinger of alteration, of invisible discovery, and dissolutions of attachments to whatever has been taken as true or an act of dogmatic virtue. The black spirit is beheaded and decapitated, separating understanding from the identification with suffering. The souls desire to descend into the darkness, conquer, and free us of the fear of what we most desire and the desire for what we most fear.

A person suffering from neurosis has a merged place of perception, can’t distinguish between history and imagined fantasies. They need to

  • Objective level– engage and experience the historical event with the felt association.
  • Subjective level– have the psychic image experience the inner events and emotions.

The child of today is embroiled, simplistic and living in its shadow via relationships. Most families are dysfunctional, where emotional and spiritual inferiority manifests as addiction to substances, drama, and activity. Childhood trauma suppresses unbearable anxiety, where the memory of the events and experiences are disassociated so they can’t be revived and experienced again. The trauma tries and successfully splits the opposites and annihilates the interplay between them.

The trauma implies a break in the child’s life continuity, and ego defences are created to protect against the experience. The mother’s death has already happened, even though they do not know when the mother may still be alive. Archetypal energies fail to be humanised, and the child is left at the mercy of the terrible mother, transformed into the good mother to survive annihilation. When primitive anxiety materialises again, it threatens to fragment the personality as the power/energy is more severe than the benign “neurotic” defences can tolerate. The neurosis creates a place in the psyche for the repressed material, banished from the body and relegated to discrete fragments of the psyche. The material should never return to consciousness. The split is intense to avoid the conjunctio (merging of opposites) happening, bringing the frightening material to be felt and experienced again.

Their Personal consciousness is disassociated with a sense of loss of self, a primitive loss of the soul with a deceased loss of vitality, power and creativity. The collective unconscious becomes associated with the ego and felt like an uncanny, stronger, fascinating, yet dangerous experience, the possession of the spirit.


The Mercurius, the world-creating spirit concealed or imprisoned in matter, can manifest in different forms. In a diabolical form, the Mercurius attacks the inner world and tears it apart, rings to dissolve it into altered states to keep one away from the unbearable anxiety, trying to keep the personality alive. The intrapsychic dark complex prevents hope, growth and individuation, populating the “severe “superego, the negative anima/animus and innate predator. The diabolic tries to encapsulate the personality in a kind of counter-dependent, self-sufficient bubble. The true essence of Mercurius is bisexual, masculine and feminine, appearing in a hermaphrodite form. The good Mercurius is found at all boundaries, borders and threshold crossings, active at the mediating transitional zone between the inner and outer worlds—the split in potential space where the ego is alive between illusion and reality. The transitional space is where the child learns to play and how to use and interpret symbols.

Negative trauma kills the symbolic activity and understanding, replacing it with fantasying, a melancholic self-soothing compromise, and defensive use of the imagination to avoid anxiety. They fantasying and idealisation the mother they never had, rewriting history to deny their underlying despair and fury at all costs. The immature ego is under a hypnotic spell of the unconscious interplay between a non-differentiated self/object, retreating into fusion and oneness for safety and avoiding the work necessary for separation. True humanity depends upon the full interplay of life’s opposites.

The innocent child is vulnerable, uninitiated, needy on the one hand and yet arrogant, inflated, and a know it all on the other. The grandiosity of the client’s self-care system must be sacrificed, the sacrifice of the innocent baby and paschal lamb. They must give up self-care illusions, the fantasy world where you and their mother live, and let in the horrific reality of abandonment, rejection and the real mother. One must mourn the unlived life, the life their self-care had prevented them from living—the dual sacrifice of both, where the self-sufficiency and innocent demands associated with it are surrendered. Give up the manic defence and begin to mourn the loss of the object other, entering the depressive period of the conjunctio.

This will help release a lot of the rage and aggression as we wrestle with the black magician.

The experience is rendered meaningless when the coherent memory is disintegrated, and the individuation process is stopped. The black magician attacks the experience of oneself, attacking the links between the affect and image, perception and thought, sensation and knowledge. The space between the ego and contents of the unconscious, attacking links between self and other and the integrative inner world. Protects by destroying and causing more destruction and despair, re-enacting the internal saboteur with raw aggression.

  • Memory available as affect (emotion) without image
  • Image available without affect
  • Disruptive bodily sensations
  • Repetitive destructive behaviour

They cannot be angry at their true abusers, where they have been replaced as loving, good parents, turning the anger inwards as directed hate and shame—the assumed “good” outer world at the price of the persecutory inner world. The client must risk realising instinctual “bad” objects to libido cathexes and equilibrium, and true reality is restored. The client can earn to express anger, and be bad without being rejected and abandoned in the process.

The depressive period is the mourning process where love and hate are integrated towards the same object and within one’s own self. Without object separation, there can be no mourning and revitalising of libido and wholeness.

Symbolic work is impossible until they have met and fought the destructive spirit, actively holding the opposites with neutralised aggression to confront the black magician. The search for the true self can’t be completed without the experience of new healthy rapport and relationships. The glue represents the unfolding of the self with human relationships participating where they feel joined. The self-object experience allows for the repair of the elements of the self that need strengthening and rebuilding. Another person’s subjective and intrapsychic experience is necessary to maintain the cohesion, vitality and integrity of the self. The use of mirroring transference helps affirm and confirm our value, emotional attunement and resonance, assurance and approval. The new relationship transforms infantile grandiosity and exhibitionism into mature self-esteem, not relying on the idealisation of people with power, status and money to help soothe the inflated ego.

The self is the archetypal basis of the ego, where the feminine and masculine are in some stage of a relationship or intrapsychic mingling. Joining with whatever is needed to feel whole or to repair development damage. Sexually acting out is a reaction to avoid the experience of the conjunctio, as it can temporality bolster self-esteem and hold together the enfeebled self for a short period. This allows the self to feel powerful, in control, feeling wanted, desirable and seen. The individual wants to be held, soothed, contained and cared for to prevent fragmentation, not just seek relief from the desire created by unresolved conflicts of the Oedipal period. Sex is used to create and experience the interpersonal glue with a sexual object, not a separate person enhanced by seduction and repetitive behaviour. The art of seduction is used to prevent losing someone of importance, supplying supply for infantile needs and gratification. Disorders of the self manifest in the form of infantile sexual activity, such as voyeurism or excessive masturbation, where the behaviour becomes pathological with a need to exhibit or experience sexuality .when the self is weakened, sexuality is stimulating enough to reorganise and revitalise the self via bodily excitement.

The conjunctio is the solution to the prohibition of infantile sexuality, where the discarded aspects of the self are recognised, accepted and valued to be embodied into the self. The self can now embody the soul, where the unknown parts of the self become internalised as felt experiences, new attributes and desires are owned and integrated. The man needs to distinguish himself from his anima, where he can experience himself as both sides of the sexual encounter. The man can bring his feminine side to a female without fearing rejection, performance anxiety or castration. If his anima is unconscious, the female is always a projection, an idealised imago based on fantasy.

Individuation requires a turning into instead of a turning away from, where the subjective feminine is no longer avoided, conquering the prowess of phallic superiority and creating a true sexual bond based on truth and intimacy. Our culture, unfortunately, forbids feminine identification in males, as this would threaten the existing structures based on unresolved oedipal conflicts. The divine feminine becomes a distant shadow to be avoided at all costs, as identifying with the female body and feelings would awaken the archaic memory of one’s undifferentiated perceptions of the mother/child body dynamics.

Marlan, S., 1997. Fire in The Stone. The Alchemy of Desire .1st ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Chiron Publications.